Start school again, but this time let it really start again

The false departure of the Italian school is no longer news. Every year, in September, the people of the school approach the first bell with the fear of those who already know that they will have to tap into the reservoir of patience. And so also this year the beginning is accompanied by a thousand questions, which are always the same: vacant chairs, unfinished competitions, provisional hours, uncertain times, promised and never started or not completed jobs, gyms still not viable, disastrous forecasts and denials of the rite. To these concerns, in these days there are others linked to increasingly expensive books, to the precariousness due to the return – which will be for everyone and after a long time without masks and distances – and to an energy crisis that could lead to decisions that are also very relevant for many institutes, such as the possibility of introducing the short week in progress by decree, having to save on heating, with the remaking of timetables and the reshaping of everyone’s commitments. On the contrary, there are few certainties, if not the one for which it will be necessary to navigate on sight, once again.

The risk is that we limit ourselves to starting the new year again in the usual school, a not very exciting scenario, because without energy, investments, strength, foresight and identity. The opposite of what the educational enterprise and the relationship with those who listen to learn should be.

Starting over with these premises means defusing any kind of enthusiasm, that of those who start in first grade, that of those who will meet Dante, that of those who start the last year. Starting over to start over means proceeding by seniority, and this is what happens punctually in our school: it is the same for the progress of teachers’ careers, which careers are not, but only aging. This is the case for students who arrive in subsequent classes, since they fail less and less, especially in the exams, although the data – and the sensations in the field – relating to the knowledge and skills acquired by the students certainly do not improve. And failing, however, is not the solution to all this, mind you, but a possible outcome expected in the case of a path gone wrong.

Here, the school can no longer afford to limit itself to reopening the padlocked gates in June and dusted off in recent days by moving forward by inertia.

First of all we need a restart of the institution, with a new minister – who will probably be in charge in just over a month – who has the school at heart as an environment for cultural, relational and social development, who has the ability and willingness to listen and intertwine the needs of all those who make up the school, and that above all has the political weight necessary to put education among the priorities of government action, and not always among emergencies only when it becomes necessary to put a patch, a mending.

School restarts as a serene, enriching, confrontational and trusting daily experience for those who do it by working on it, attending it, being involved in it as parents, as grandparents. The hope is that the school will restart with new energies as early as September 12 from individuals, from every classroom, therefore from below.

The school restarts with and for teachers who find the strength, the desire and the care to perform the year in the chair at their best, not because it is a mission or waiting for salaries to finally become dignified, but because it is professional, fair and nice that it is.

The school restarts with and for students who expect to encounter complexity and its beauty, which also implies commitment, effort and sometimes failure.

The school restarts with and for students who are ready to accept the indications of those who have the role or task of guiding them in this year of which every day will be a meter of road traveled, between knowledge and discoveries, moments of crisis and of satisfaction.

The school restarts with and for the parents involved in the enterprise of education and willing to frank dialogue, even if it will bring out unpleasant realities with which to confront and to welcome, manage, resolve.

Here, the wish is that the school restarts from what constitutes it in the depths, that is to say from the people and the relationship between those who, in different roles, every day contribute to making it the environment that it is, in a room of the ministry, in Trastevere, or in a classroom in a remote village or in the city center.

Just a hundred years ago Thomas Sterne Eliot, in his Wasteland, wrote “on these fragments I have propped up my ruins”, referring to culture and its masters who saved him in a landscape of devastation and decay. So, let the school take up this suggestion and rise again starting from the culture that innervates it, from the teachers it welcomes and presents, from the people who make it up. There are ruins everywhere and little promising in sight, but sometimes it is enough to collect fragments of beauty, passion and life to make it.

Happy school year to everyone, even you, school.

Start school again, but this time let it really start again